Posted by

Allen Adams Allen Adams
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

edge staff writer

Share

Patriots Progress Report 2018 – First Quarter

October 3, 2018
Rate this item
(0 votes)

It seems like just yesterday that the Patriots were utterly failing to stop the Philadelphia Eagles offense in the Super Bowl. And yet here we are, already a quarter of the way through the new season.

It has been a rocky road for the Pats thus far – and that’s putting it in far gentler terms than some of the team’s more hardcore supporters might. It hasn’t been an outright dreadful start, but considering the expectations, 2-2 isn’t exactly great.

New England has only looked really good once so far, and that was against a suspect Miami team. They were OK at best against the Texans and worse than that against the Jags. And of course, they were awful against the Lions.

Add it all up and it starts to look like maybe this season won’t be the cakewalk to the playoffs that many of us anticipated. Still, what’s done is done – let’s look back at how we got here.

And now, ladies and gentlemen - the Progress Report.

Offense – C

This is not at all what we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from the Patriots offense. For years, we could always count on this team generating some serious scoring. However, that has not been the case through the first four games. New England is in the middle or worse in every offensive metric that matters – 23rd overall in yardage (22nd in passing, 12th in rushing) and 15th in scoring. They have been the embodiment of mediocrity. Tom Brady might be showing his age a little, though his nine TDs against four picks isn’t bad and his passing numbers are further skewed by his 133-yard stinker against Detroit. His pass catchers haven’t broken out – Gronkowski is facing constant double teams and the most reliable receiver is running back James White, who has already caught 22 balls and three TDs. The running game has shown flashes – Sony Michel might be the real deal and White is a solid change of pace. The return of Julian Edelman and the continued progress of Josh Gordon could lead to a big jump in this grade next time around.

Defense – C+

Another mediocre grade, although this one is definitely more like what we expect from the Patriots. The Pats fall pretty much in the middle as far as defense is concerned, managing to land slightly higher up the list than they do on offense – they’re 12th overall as far as total yardage allowed per game is concerned, though they’re much better against the pass (eighth) than they are against the run (27th). In terms of scoring, they’re just a hair above the midpoint; their 21 points allowed per game is good for 12th in the league. The secondary looks somewhat better than expected, especially when you take into account the departure of Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan. Guys like Stephon Gilmore and the brothers McCourty (Devin and Jason) have stepped up their games and looked solid in the defensive backfield. There has been surprising feistiness on the line as well; guys like Deatrich Wise and Trey Flowers have come out hot. However, the linebacking corps looks slow – that group will need to improve to get this grade up going forward.

Special Teams – B+

I admit to having a tendency to inflate this grade a little bit. Stephen Gostkowski probably isn’t the weapon that he was a few years ago, but he’s still one of the better kickers in the NFL, and considering the current woes being experienced by the position around the league, that’s not nothing. He attempted just seven field goals in the first four games, making six; his only miss was from over 50 yards. He’s 11-for-11 on extra points. He’s still booming kickoffs. Punter Ryan Allen is still just OK; he’s firmly in the middle as far as his position goes. He could stand to put a few more inside the 20. The return game – both covering and receiving – remains a strong point; these units are among the league’s most consistent. Plus, while he hasn’t yet, you never know when Cordarrelle Patterson might break a big one. It’s not the sexiest unit, but New England continues to benefit from well-executed special teams work.

Coaching – B

While his qualities as a person might leave something to be desired, there’s no disputing that Bill Belichick is an exceptional football coach. However, he definitely looked to be struggling a bit to start this season. Schematically, the Pats haven’t looked quite as sharp as they have in the past. Some of that can be chalked up to new players learning a new system and whatnot, but the reality is that the cogs in the New England machine simply aren’t turning like they used to. And with the behind-the-scenes whispers we’ve been hearing in recent months added into the mix, one has to ask: is Belichick losing some of the younger players? It might seem like a silly question later (and almost certainly will when the team breaks off a long winning streak), but right now, it’s valid. It isn’t time to panic – we’re a long way from that – but you’d like a stronger start than this. Still, until he shows us otherwise for an extended period, in Belichick we trust.

Latest from Allen Adams

Related items (by tag)

back to top